Omni-Channel Service Experience: Reserve in Store

The first of its kind apparel retail service to reserve clothes in store online.


Over the years, Gap’s product page had become bloated with information and hard to browse for users looking to evaluate the product, especially on smaller devices. Problems ranged from low quality product imagery to superfluous navigation on the page and discrepancies in information on the web and mobile site.

My Role

UX Lead

Collaborators:  Product Management, User Research, Visual Design, Front-End Engineering, Brand leaders, Brand marketing


How might we use Gap Inc’s digital channel to drive store traffic and create more cross-channel customers?

Business Goal

To serve the rapidly increasing traffic, make it easier and faster to shop on mobile and tablet devices.

“What I like about the service is that it gives a more direct reason to go to the store, know the desired item is there so you can touch it and try it on" - BR Customer

Stakeholder vision

This was particularly complex because of it being a first of its kind cross-channel experience at Gap.


The only internal data that existed was around a find in store feature Gap had launched two years prior which provides a real time  store inventory check with a 3% adoption rate. Users of this feature were targeted as the primary audience.

I took a deep dive into understanding omni-channel solutions by other retailers that included extensive online research and store visits.
Four main models were uncovered.

Primary concern of leadership was whether not taking a payment upfront would disincentivize people from actually showing up in stores.

Looking at the experiences from a UX, business and technology standpoint I created a comparative strategy document listing the pros and cons along the four commonalities between the paying before or paying after trying experiences.

Read my full analysis Reserve in Store vs Buy and Pick up in store.

Key question that was critical for choosing direction was whether the target audience was the general online shopper or the “pre-shopper”, ones that have shown interest in checking store availability.

The “pre-shopper” was the chosen segment and I collaborated with my research partner to interview some of these people.

Envisioning the service

Based on these motivations and research insights, I began sketching and storyboarding the architecture for a reservation service.

Gaining alignment

I storyboarded the most complex multi-reservation scenario imaginable to get leadership as well as technical buy-in.

Prototyping and Testing

Now, it was time to put this idea in front of real shoppers and learn more.

The primary assumption to be tested was that pre-shoppers always want to build certainty into their store visits

I created the end-to-end service experience stimuli including associate facing reservation slips for various pre-shopper segments (including men). This was my directional learning agenda for the researcher that included:

  • Service Awareness & Discoverability
  • Pre-Reservation Expectations
  • Service Comprehension
  • Post-Reservation Expectations and Communication
  • In-Store Behavior
  • Shopping Behavior Modifiers

Key Learnings

I visualized the emotional journey of a shopper browsing for products, how they go from a casual to a committed mindset and what role the product page must play in this journey.

  • Apparel shopping has very high emotional stakes; trying before buying is critical to building assurance and satisfaction.
  • Users expected immediacy like a ride-share experience
  • Next day hold policy termed “generous”
  • Could no naturally find the service on the site
  • Customers loved the complementary nature of the service
  • Delight around the fact that they didn’t have to wait in line

Design Principles

Based on these insights and previous research, I set up the following four principles for progressing on the design

Design for Adoption

Introduce pre-shoppers to the reservation service where the core value proposition of building certainty into their store visit is clear

Minimal Digital Effort

Eliminate points of friction like sign ins, print outs, saved emails or searching for reserved items in stores

Design for Convenience

Allow customers to reserve and pick up based on their schedule instead of store hours or system constraints

Design for Clarity

Establish service benefits and operation unambiguously throughout the experience

Principles in action- wireframes to visual design

We see the design for adoption principle with the reserve in store box more prominently called out and starting with the value proposition of the concept that most resonated with users at the time- the need to secure items they like immediately.

Focusing on the minimal digital effort and clarity principle, the number of mandatory field were reduced to just three, and making the instructions around communication and timing succinct and noticeable.

The confirmation page was the most critical part of the experience. We visually enhanced the most important things to look out for so users didn’t fly pass this page and miss these important directions.

And finally, the reservation being held until next closing of store was important to make things convenient.

It was important to emphasize that the reservation is not instant.

Information design on the confirmation email also kept true to the principles- keeping things like store details, end time, product reserved details clear. We decided to not mention any additional instructions around printing or where and how to receive the item in store as it proved to be confusing in the testing. Users exhibited the natural behavior of going to the cashier in the store and saying their name to collect their items.

There were a few edge cases to deal with in these emails such as making reservations after store is closed, next day being a holiday etc. Each of which triggered a slightly different email keeping the overall reserve and pick up experience consistent for the user.

For the in-store experience, we tested several collection locations including fitting room. Cash register was the most natural pick-up location for customers.

To continue the principles of convenience and clairty, the reserve bags had the name of the service printed on them so users could easily recognize what to do when they reached the cashier desk at a store.

For the in-store experience, we tested several collection locations including fitting room. Cash register was the most natural pick-up location for customers.

To continue the principles of convenience and clairty, the reserve bags had the name of the service printed on them so users could easily recognize what to do when they reached the cashier desk at a store.

Usability Test

This test was conducted for acceptance post-launch and inquiring about some future enhancements. It followed a similar script to the concept test. There was resounding acceptance of the idea and the overall experience. Sample customer quotes

“simple and efficient”“…it will save  me time and money. I don’t  have  to guess  when  entering  the store if they have  my  size in stock  or the  item I saw  online.”“It takes  away  the  frustration of looking through  piles of clothes to find the exact color  you  want  in your  size. Especially  when  it’s busy in the store.”“It combines  the advantages of online  shopping  with  the advantages  of actual store shopping…”


The pilot launch met the customer and business objectives of providing more worthwhile in-store experiences.

  • 60% online engagement rate from “find in stores” users or “pre-shopper”
  • 80% reservation form completion rate
  • 70%  reservations converted to actual store visits
  • 79% customers actually purchase the reserved items- purchase likelihood gone up to 10X

Buzzfeed News acknowledged the service innovation as Gap became the first apparel retailer in the market to launch such a service.

Our then VP of Produt was quoted saying “I obviously can’t speak for other retailers, but listening to our consumers, we’ve created an experience she likes that makes shopping easier for her,”

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